Pastor’s Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Pastor Caroline Smith

“In order to be true to God and to ourselves we must break with the familiar, established and secure norms and go off into the unknown.”  --Thomas Merton Our church family, and my family, are “off into the unknown.” When I wrote last, we were saying our goodbyes and...

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Letter from Pastor Caroline Smith

Greetings and blessings upon each of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Our family continues to work through the logistics of our move to Atlanta. We have been praying for you in the midst of our mutual transitions. According to William Bridges, there are three...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (08.13.21)

  As I close out my ministry with the Parkway family, my heart is filled with gratitude for each of you and the difference you have made in my life. I could not have asked for a more supportive, loving, and committed group of Christians with whom to engage in...

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Pastor’s Friday Comment (08.06.21)

I gave away my books this week. Okay, I didn’t give away all my books. I still have a ton at home, but, after pulling out a few that I wanted to keep, I found new homes for the books in my office. I gave young people whom I have mentored over the years the first crack...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (07.30.21)

I am keenly aware of the fact that I only have a few more opportunities to share my thoughts with you on a regular basis. In the past, in my Friday Comments I could promote some minor event in congregational life, knowing that there was always next week for dealing...

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From the Pastor….

If there is any good that has come out of the pandemic (and, believe me, in the face of so much death and grief, so much of it senseless and avoidable, there isn’t much), it is that, because we were forced out of the routine of our lives, we were afforded an...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (07.23.21)

       Last Sunday I announced my specific plans for retirement, something that all of us knew was coming by the end of this year. I had prepared a fairly lengthy statement, but after consulting with a couple of my advisors, I decided on a shorter statement for the...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (07.16.21)

Summer has been a good time for “easing back into” the regular, in-person activities at Parkway. With so many people on vacation, social distancing hasn’t been much of a problem. The continuing of live streaming and recorded availability of the services has meant that...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (07.09.21)

This Sunday afternoon we will be ordaining Hannah Rule for ministry. Hannah began the practice of ministry as our Minister to Students while attending McAfee School of Theology. She is now preparing for a career as a pastoral counselor. I hope you will be able to join...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (07.02.21)

Being part of a small congregation obviously has its challenges. There aren’t as many resources, volunteers have to take on more responsibilities. You know what I’m talking about. However, if we weren’t also aware of the fact that there are also some distinct...

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From the Pastor….

I had the opportunity last month to worship with another congregation. It’s always great to get out of the leader mode and just experience corporate worship. Every aspect of the service was meaningful to me, but I was particularly struck by a prayer offered by a lay...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (06.25.21)

It was a natural tendency for all of us over the past year or so to turn inward, taking care of ourselves while trying to maintain our lives and livelihoods. You were mindful, however, that there were many people who suffered a great deal more than you did. While many...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (06.04.21)

A few months ago, I informed you that there were a couple of issues that I felt needed to be dealt with before our church’s transition to new pastoral leadership. While no events or circumstances had made these issues immediately critical, I felt that it was my...

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From the Pastor….

I had just gone as a wet-behind-the-ears associate minister to a church, when someone handed me a piece of paper on which he had written a story that I guess he thought I might use as a sermon illustration some day. That was forty-six years ago, and it’s still...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (05.28.21)

I need to squelch a rumor. Parkway Baptist Church has not been closed for the past fifteen months.  We have been out in the world where the Church of Christ is always supposed to be, bearing witness to what God has done for us and what God’s presence can do in the...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (05.21.21)

The recent change in guidelines related to fully vaccinated people that the Centers for Disease Control announced last week was welcome news. I believe almost all of us are looking forward to some semblance of “normal,” and that includes our being able to return to...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (05.07.21)

This past Sunday, in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, those of us who chose took our masks off for worship. And, as I’ve said to young ministers on other occasions, if you can’t find a metaphor for preaching in that, I can’t help you. All of us...

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From the Pastor (04.30.21)

One of the classics of Christian philosophical thought is Søren Kierkegaard’s "Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing." Kierkegaard was one of the most important Christian mid-nineteenth century thinkers known as existentialists. The book is an extended sermon on...

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From the Pastor (04.23.21)

It’s time to start thinking about what church will “look like” once we are able to return to some degree of normalcy. The fact of the matter, of course, is that nobody knows. No one knows who will have become so used to “virtual worship” (I’m not crazy about that...

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From the Pastor

One of the innumerable positive traits about the Parkway family is your generosity beyond our own church. Through our relationship with several ministry partners, you have demonstrated that your concern for meeting the needs of the people around you and sharing the...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (04.16.21)

  No one will be happier than I will when something other than the Covid pandemic and how to cope dominates our global, national, and local conversations. However, for now, how to respond to real and perceived risks and what behaviors are acceptable in these...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (04.09.21)

N. T. Wright is perhaps the most popular biblical scholar writing in English today. He has written a small book entitled God and the Pandemic: A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath. It is only 79 pages, so it can be read in a couple of sittings...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (04.02.21)

The classic question to consider each year on this day is, how can a day that commemorates the death of a sinless and innocent man be called “Good Friday”? For anyone not steeped in Christian thinking or who is an adherent of almost any other religion, this would seem...

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Pastor’s Comments (03.26.21)

One of the hymns often featured during Holy Week is “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley.” It is usually notated as an African American Spiritual, but no one knows the exact origin of the words. When you read them carefully, you can understand why they express an...

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From the Pastor (04.01.21)

While the involvement of conservative churches and prominent pastors in politics has been grabbing the headlines over the past few years, the most important religion story has been the dramatic decline in church membership and participation. The other way of stating...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (03.19.21)

Ideological labels are handy ways of identifying a person or group’s basic position in some area, but they are always far from precise and may be as misleading as they are helpful. One example, as I’ve written before, involves the labeling of some Christians as...

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Pastor’s Friday Comment (03.12.21)

On Monday of this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new Covid guidelines that should offer encouragement to anyone looking for a time when we can safely re-enter society (which I assume is just about everyone). The CDC said people who are...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (03.05.21)

I recently purchased a pair of noise cancelling headphones, a great way to remove distractions when you are working from home and there are other residents there as well. Cut on some low-volume meditative music and you’re in your own little world - which is fine if...

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From the Pastor….

The last time we held an indoor worship service at Parkway was on March 15, 2020. This was shortly after the first deaths from Covid 19 were reported in the United States, when we were just beginning to understand the impact that this pandemic was going to have on all...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (02.26.21)

One of the many people who make Parkway special is Kristy Engel, a nurse practitioner and missionary. Through the years she has been invaluable in the planning of mission trips and in seeking to ensure that wherever we go, we “help without hurting.” But in the past...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (02.19.21)

As you probably know, the Pastor Search Committee has asked three McAfee School of Theology students to examine aspects of our church life and make some tentative observations about what they think our future might hold. The committee thought it would be good to get...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (02.12.21)

Citizens of the United States are often stereotyped as people of “rugged individualism.” We pride ourselves on being able to stand on our own, dependent on no one. It isn’t true of all of us, but stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. You might try asking someone...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (02.05.21)

While all of us have been affected by the pandemic, we’re all aware that the impact has not been the same for everyone. While some have been able to work from home, others have had to continue to work in offices, factories, delivery vans, hospitals, etc. in order to...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (01.29.2021)

As I have noted a couple of times before since we suspended indoor worship in April, it is difficult to get a handle on how many members of our church family are engaging in worship each Sunday. My biggest concern related to this is the inability to know who has...

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From the Pastor….

If there has been any small blessing in our inability to worship inside the sanctuary, it has been to disconnect our Christian practice from a specific location. It has reminded us that, while we can be grateful for a place to meet together for worship, fellowship,...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (01.22.2021)

No one should be so naive as to believe that a change in national administration will heal the deep divisions in our country. The divide is too great, the opinions too ingrained, the feelings too raw for unity to be easily achieved. Nevertheless, as Christians we are...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (01.15.2021)

I am often inspired by the writings of Father Richard Rohr. A few weeks ago, he posed a question that has existential implications for “our current reality”: What if the challenges of the current moment are actually offering us an invitation to let go of our ideas of...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (01.08.21)

On The Day of the Epiphany, January 6, 2021, domestic terrorists breached the hallowed halls of American democracy in an attempt to prevent the certification of the lawful election of the President of the United States. They were incited to do so by the words of a...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (01.01.2021)

Happy New Year! As I remarked in Sunday’s sermon, just wishing that 2021 will be a better year than 2020 is setting a pretty low bar for our expectations of the next twelve months. Since we hope we are seeing the light at the end of the long pandemic tunnel with the...

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From the Pastor….

If I were departing a house, still furnished and with other people still living in it, I would hope to leave it in as good a condition as possible. I wouldn’t want to leave anything unrepaired or untidy. I’m trying to approach the end of my tenure as your pastor...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.25.20)

As you listen to “Christmas music” this time of year, you will find between the odd juxtaposition of “O Holy Night” and “Here Come Santy Claus'' a sprightly tune that fits either the secular or the sacred emphasis of the Season. “We Need a Little Christmas” speaks, I...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.18.20)

This Sunday, December 20, is the fourth and final Sunday in Advent. As always, it not only marks the last Lord’s Day on which we worship from the texts that focus on the Second Coming of Christ, but also the beginning of the countdown toward the celebration of the...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.11.20)

Let’s begin with the premise that the leaders of all Christian churches want to do the right thing. They want to serve God and serve humanity as best they can, using whatever resources are at their disposal. We may vary greatly in the particular goals we have in mind;...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.04.20)

There is a song I’ve loved since seminary called “The Hug Song”. It relates the story of a psychiatrist named Dan Morrow, who lost his job because he considered hugs to be therapeutic, but his boss thought they were inappropriate.  The final verse says, “Now Dan...

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From the Pastor….

Even in these “very different” days, some things must continue. One of those is our support of missions through our Global Missions Offering. Our missionaries are experiencing all the difficulties that the rest of us are, plus in many cases facing the challenge of...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (11.27.20)

  This Sunday will begin the Season of Advent, the time which, as you should know by now, marks the start of a new Christian Year and is the portion reserved for penitence and preparation.  It is when we recognize that God is already in the midst of us, but also...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (11.20.20)

How often, I wonder, do we pin our hopes for future happiness on our memories of things past. We judge a season or tradition not on its own, but on how it matches up with other experiences. This year, of all years, we better not fall into that trap. I’m not a big fan...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (11.13.20)

“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”  William Shakespeare This might be a good time to survey the collective damage that has been done to our culture and our people by the vitriol, duplicity, disregard for morality, and...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (11.06.20)

I am writing this prior to the general election, so, of course, I do not know who was the victor for any office, including that of President. Possibly, by the time you read this on Friday, all will have been revealed. Whether or not that is true, it is certain that...

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From the Pastor…

Every conversation I have these days with my friends who are also pastors has at least two subjects. One, the most obvious, is, what are you doing to keep your people connected and maintain worship and ministries during the pandemic? The second is, what do you think...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (10.30.20)

By this time next week we should (we hope) know who the Leader of the Free World will be for the next four years. I doubt that any of us is naive enough to think that deciding this issue will bring an end to the divisiveness that has beset our country for the past...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (10.23.20)

I don’t think we need to dwell at this point on the announcement I made Sunday regarding my plans for retirement. However, sometimes, when you hear something for the first time, you might hang onto a particular detail or miss something important, so I’m printing the...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (10.16.20)

On Wednesday, during our Midweek Prayer Service, I shared a meditation called “The Virtues of Kingdom People,” based on a chapter with that title in David Gushee and Glen Stassen’s book, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. I chose that topic...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (10.09.20)

If you availed yourself of the material for The Beginning a couple of weeks ago, in the meditation you read this paragraph from one of my favorite preachers, the Methodist Wiliam Willimon: “Recently, I saw some research that indicates that your political affiliation -...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (10.02.20)

This Sunday is known in Christian worship as World Communion Sunday. The first Sunday in October is celebrated by many Church traditions as a day when we can acknowledge our union with one another through our shared commitment to Jesus Christ. Though we may celebrate...

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From the Pastor…

I learned the verse in the King James English: “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is…” (Hebrews 10:25). It was an exhortation used by our pastor when I was growing up to remind us of the importance of consistent attendance at...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (09.11.20)

The life and spirit of the Parkway family have always been characterized by our joy in spending time with one another. Obviously, that level of connection has been absent for the past six months and I’m sure all of us have missed it greatly. Although your attendance...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (09.04.20)

It’s not important that you know any of the big words I learned in seminary, but the principles behind some of them are critical for your understanding of Christian faith, especially if you see the Bible as your rule for faith and practice and consider its proper...

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Pastor’s Friday Comments (08.28.20)

Because the level of restrictions, fear of the unknown, and uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic were in the forefront of our thoughts and our conversations back in March and April, most of us probably didn’t give much consideration to what has become for...

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From the Pastor….

Because the words “global” and “pandemic” are now inextricably linked, as Christians we must be concerned about and pray for all the people of the world as they face this challenge. However, the place where we are most personally affected and where we can make the...

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